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XFL 2023: A Day at the 2023 St. Louis Showcase

On July 7th, the XFL hosted one of their Showcases at Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis Missouri to begin the evaluation process for the next wave of talent for the 2024 season. In attendance were XFL Executives Russ Brandon, David Dykeman, Battlehawks Head Coach Anthony Becht, Players Offensive Tackle Eric Magwood, Quarterback A.J. McCarron along with St. Louis DPP Dave Boller, among other XFL Player Personnel Staff from other teams. Overall, over 200 prospective players showed up to participate in the Showcase with 16 being invited to Choctaw for the opportunity to work out at the XFL Combine being held on July 25th through July 27th.

Stephen Austin ANC Combine and XFL Showcase Director talks about the history of the Alt-League Showcases

The Candidates:

Players came from near and far with one player telling me he drove from Florida to prove themselves to XFL personnel. Local prospects from larger universities like Antar Thompson (Missouri/Valdosta State), Krishon Merriweather (Texas Tech), Jordan Cole (NIU/SEMO), along with smaller school prospects like Kidd Sutherlin (Westminster College), and Joe King (Missouri Baptist University), all took to Spartan Field on a hot July day to continue their career and chase their dreams.

XFL candidates share their stories as they attempt to make it to the XFL

Several notable players out of state also made their way to the showcase as well. Most notably a Quarterback named Luke Drone out of Illinois State. Drone, a 38-Year-old High School Teacher/Football Coach was a UDFA to the Bills in 2008, before embarking on a career in several arena leagues from 2009 to 2013. He told members of the media he saw the showcase on Facebook, and decided to give it a go, even though he had to attempt the registration process twice since it took him more than 18 minutes to complete the required information.

Former DC Defender Brenard McCall was also in attendance attempting to return to the XFL, after spending training camp with the team last year. Overall, 16 players from the St. Louis Showcase were invited to attend the combine at the end of July.

Current Players in Attendance:

Battlehawks Offensive Tackle Eric Magwood, and Quarterback A.J. McCarron were representing the Battlehawks providing motivation and guidance to prospective XFL players. Magwood took the time to talk to media, talking about how grateful he was for the opportunity to play in the XFL, after coming from the IFL’s Arizona Rattlers.

McCarron stressed to media the amount of courage that it takes to come out to a showcase and going on a limb to chase your drams. Prospective XFL players gravitated to the former Alabama signal caller offering gratitude to him coming out, in addition to sharing stories about watching him throughout his career. Former Westminster College Wide Receiver Kidd Sutherlin told media members that many of the players look to McCarron as a “hero” and “mentor” as the 8-year NFL veteran provided a “spark” to the city that has been scorned by an absence of football too many times. McCarron’s biggest take away was offering media a timeline on when he’d have to make decision about a possible return to the NFL. The full interview can be found below:

Also in attendance were St. Louis locals Dan Williams Wide Receiver for the Orlando Guardians, and Mike Glass III Quarterback of the Montreal Alouettes and IFL’s Massachusetts Pirates who both came out to support former teammates.

Checking in with the XFL’s President:

Russ Brandon was one of several XFL executives in attendance and offered words of encouragement to not only the future of the league but also for the support of the Battlehawks from the fans of St. Louis. Brandon stated the atmosphere of the “Dome” and shared a story about going on a run at 9am only to see the parking lots littered with fans already tailgating. Brandon also touched on the playoff scenario during the last couple weeks of the season and acknowledged some confusion. He stated that the XFL “Never dreamt, in all seriousness, never dreamt that we would get that far down in the tiebreaker scenario. It’s actually the exact same in the NFL. They’ve never utilized it. So the key to anything is keeping things simple. So we’ll have to clean that up a little bit.”

Brandon also talked with media members about expansion, the long-term vision of the XFL, and the location of the championship game. Brandon’s full interview can be found in the video above from the July 7th Showcase.

Insight with Coach Anthony Becht:

Coach Becht spoke with Media members about the talent evaluation process, in addition to the team’s preparation for the 2024 season. Like Brandon, Coach Becht spoke about the St. Louis fanbase setting the standard for XFL, and the passion that the fans brought to the “Dome”. Becht’s full interview can be found below.

Closing Thoughts:

Overall, the showcase appeared to be an extremely successful event for not only evaluating talent but for also offering insight to fans and media alike for the upcoming season. Not only was the event a great event for players, hosting the event at Missouri Baptist University an NAIA college in the shadow of the “dome”, it allowed fans and family members to have an up-close look at the evaluation process the XFL is utilizing for the future players. With support of the people from St. Louis in full force, the “314” has proven that they are ready to support not just the Battlehawks but also the league as a whole in 2024 and beyond.

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Pat Rifino is a former Security Contractor turned writer. He began his writing career talking about geo-politics, and the defense industry. Now Pat writes about alt-league football, while hanging with his dogs in his off time.

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